Sides prepare ammunition for drive-thru public hearing | COMOX DRIVE-THRU BAN

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Sides prepare ammunition for drive-thru public hearing

By Christiana Wiens, Comox Valley EchoOctober 5, 2009

A public hearing on the future of drive-thru restaurants in Comox is heating up with two petitions expected to come before council.

The meeting – set for the d’Esterre House at 7 p.m. Wednesday – will see the Comox Drive-Thru Restaurant Coalition present at least 2,500 signed notes to town council.

Another smaller petition will be presented by neighbours living in the subdivision behind a proposed commercial development at McDonald and Guthrie Road, where the developer is making room for at least two drive-thru spots.

Tim Hortons is also bringing in their management from Ontario to listen in on the presentations – although they are not expected to speak.

"Public awareness is pretty much all we can do at this point," said owner John Brocklehurst.

The wording of the petition, "Let’s allow drive thrus. Vote against the ban," is already being contested by at least one councillor.

"We want to put a cap or a moratorium that limits drive thrus to the restaurants we already have," said councillor Russ Arnott.

He says he wonders whether staff being asked to wear the blue T-shirts are being pressured into wearing them.

"I went to one of the drive-thrus and asked the person in the blue T-Shirt ‘so what do you think of drive-thrus?’ and they said ‘I think people should get out of their cars,’" said Arnott. "I’m just wondering if these people are allowed to express their opinion or not?"

Arnott said drive-thrus are like today’s cigarettes – one day people will marvel at the marketing campaign around them that makes them seem acceptable.

Meanwhile councillor Tom Grant is still shaking his head.

"I can tell you that I’ve spoken to dozens and dozens of people and everyone’s talking about how foolish this is," said Grant.

He says the issue didn’t come from the community but rather, was a made-in-council resolution.

"This was purely manufactured by council members," Grant said.

He is hoping a lot of people do show up at the d’Esterre House Wednesday.

"Council can ignore 800 to 1,000 names on a petition, but they do so at their peril," he said.

Meanwhile, residents near Guthrie and McDonald are polling their neighbourhood against drive-thrus restaurants saying a proposed commercial development will bring more traffic into the neighbourhood, drop property values and make their neighbourhood ugly.

"Everybody is in favour of capping drive thrus as they exist today, said Larrie Szafron. "If they want to put in drive-thrus they’re in for a tooth-and-nail type of fight."

As heated as the lead-up to the public hearing has been over the past months, town administrator Richard Kanigan said the file at town hall was relatively quiet as of Monday.

"We haven’t seen an extraordinary number of submissions come in," said Kanigan.

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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